Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Revisiting an older post for Veterans Day

Last month, I had the opportunity to take my wife and kids to our nation's capital. There was a LOT of walking, but seeing some of the museums, monuments and memorials was worth getting jelly legs over. We had the opportunity to see the WWII memorial, and I had the opportunity to instill some patriotism in my children.

On a personal note, my grandparents were of the WWII era. Both lived in Poland when Hitler invaded their country on September 1, 1939. My grandmother told stories about how she was forced to learn German and live in a quartered off section of Warsaw - to only later be put in a labor camp when she was deemed old enough to work. My grandfather joined the underground army (a resistance faction in Poland during WWII, supported by the British - something that history books don't tell you) strategically building bridges and destroying others. My other grandfather was locked in a concentration camp and had to sleep on a cold, concrete floor. Many people think that it was only the Jews who were locked up and tortured by the Nazis - there were many regular non-Jewish citizens who were also put in prisons, but they were spared the genocide. This doesn't mean that they had it easy. Neither one of my grandparents lost their sense of national pride, despite the fact that two were prisoners in their own home. So how come, 7 years after 9/11, we as Americans have seemed to have lost our sense of national pride? Wasn't our country brutally attacked by fascists? Didn't we feel terrified about our nation's future for a short while?

My grandfather, before he died, taught me what it meant to be an American and taught me about pride in one's country. Although we bicker and argue from both sides of the political spectrum, let us not forget those who protected our right to do so. For if it weren't for the bravery of tens of thousands, hundreds of millions would not enjoy the freedoms we take for granted. This is a value I hope to pass on to my children and grandkids.

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